Spent 2 hours with ARNAV Rev V910AH. 30 minutes with avionics mechanic getting tutored on engine monitoring and upgrade; 30 minutes taxiing and long run-up, 30 minutes flying with engine monitoring page only, 30 minutes navigating VFR (and holding outside class D airspace waiting for tower to sort out chaos after another plane declared a smoke-in-cockpit emergency).
By coincidence, my ARVAV was upgraded and just about to be shipped back when they released software, so it came installed. Had Engine Monitoring installed at the same time so here are my initial reactions.
Color graphics are huge improvement, so is resolution
Blue lakes made VFR dead reckoning EXCITING (great passenger entertainment!)
Info from engine monitoring very fascinating (odd CHT4 temps!)
Refresh times are slower overall and very slow with terrain mapping (overtaxed CPU, eh?)
Menus and operations are different, so expect a learning curve
Initial assessment: Rev H upgrade was worth $2,000 expense.
Some detailed reactions:
- Startup is VERY DIFFERENT
The ARNAV expects GPS location info BEFORE it displays the map. My mechanic claimed to have been told “don’t touch a menu button until GPS acquires satellites or ARNAV will crash/restart!” Didn’t really test that. But some information WILL NOT DISPLAY until the GPS provides TRACK INFO. For instance, the waypoint data block and Terrain Obstruction Proximity Warning System (TOPS) block do not display and could not be found in any menu until you activate a GPS direct-to or flight plan, when they just appear! Also, it takes longer. And engine monitoring startup may be confusing things for me.
Learn how to set up the display the way you like it and then plan to leave it like that. Upgrading the display resolution and terrain/blue-lake presentation clearly taxes the CPU power. Refresh rates to menu changes seem to be at least 2-3 seconds, even without terrain displayed when it took from 4-8 seconds. Playing with the ARNAV options and seeing it take a long time to refresh creates more frustration on the ground than I experienced flying with it. However, in a crisis, the Garmins refresh much faster and the Sandel is almost instantaneous.
- No pointer to select airport info block; navaid/airspace info gone
The only way to get information about an airport is to key in the alphanumeric name. “ID Completion” works well, but is different behavior than Garmin. [See my user-interface-design comments below.]
- Declutter options are well chosen, just slow to switch
Declutter options are DC-0: terrain and everything; DC-1: remove terrain; DC-2: remove water; DC-3: navigation only. Initial impressions were that terrain was great for VFR dead-reckoning, passenger entertainment, and possibly IFR approach (didn’t try it), but DC-1 would be easier for IFR en route because color info on black background provides much easier focus on key information (some stuff is hard to read when overlaid on green/yellow terrain).
- User interface design still frustrates me
Flame on! Once upon a time, I was a professional in user interface design and some of the things that these avionics guys do really offends my sensibilities and professional practices. There are now 3 VERY DIFFERENT interfaces to controlling complex navigation and display technology: Garmin twist-and-click, Sandel click-only, and ARNAV click-click-click… And worse, ARNAV CHANGED the menu system and system operation A LOT from rev V910AG to V910AH, so you have to UNLEARN where things were because some are now gone or under different menus. Oh yeah, the use of saturated colors sometimes creates color contrast effects. Flame off!
Bottom line: First impressions are enthusiastic thumbs up! (With a few grumbles… The improvements are worthy of some learning, sigh!)
I’m looking forward to my weekend San Diego-Dallas-Chicago flight to spend time learning to love my upgraded ARNAV display.